Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson admits that he is already looking ahead to next season after ending the season strongly with a 2-0 win against relegated West Brom on Sunday.
Wilfried Zaha and Patrick van Aanholt grabbed the goals to give Palace the well-earned victory on the last day of the Premier League season. Hodgson's side kept the ball superbly and dominated the play all afternoon, but struggled to get the breakthrough goal until the 70th minute.
Speaking after the game, Hodgson said (via cpfc.co.uk): “It was a very satisfying end to the season. We dominated the first half in terms of possession but they were hard to break down. They are an organised team and get players behind the ball well and worked very hard, so even though we had a lot of the ball, it was very hard to create a clear-cut chance.
“In the second half we were quicker and more incisive, and looked like we were going to score even before Wilf [Zaha] put us in the lead. That was the goal we needed to settle things down and open up the game a little bit more, because there was no point in them then defending for their lives.”
"In particular I was very pleased with the two full-backs," Hodgson said. "We knew we would need them to make a lot of forward runs and give us width in attack because our wide midfield players often come in off the line. Patrick van Aanholt made a goal and scored a goal but his general play was also very good, as was Aaron Wan-Bissaka."
“Ruben Loftus-Cheek impresses me every time I see him in training and matches. He’s a fine player and I think we needed people like him, Wilf and Andros today because they are a hard defence to unlock.”
Hodgson didn't avoid being asked about the future of star man Wilfried Zaha, who has been heavily linked with moves elsewhere, including to the likes of Tottenham and Manchester City.
The Palace boss claimed to be confident of keeping hold of the Ivory Coast international, saying: “Wilf knows exactly how we value him as a player and as a person because he’s an important figure for us.
"He has a long-term contract and is one of our best paid players, as well as he should be, and the last thing on anyone’s mind here is letting him go.”
The Palace boss admitted that plans are already in place ahead of next season, but he is not being too idealistic about the prospects for Crystal Palace.
“We want to keep the nucleus of this group of this team together and hopefully strengthen in one or two areas to make certain that next season we can finish 11th again, which if we do will be a good achievement.
"We have to be satisfied with that because we have modest expectations at the moment. If we get there, we can’t do it the way we got there this year; it’s got to be a much more solid, consistent performance for the start."
Palace missed out on a place in the top ten on goal difference. Even so, the Eagles ended the season in 11th, a remarkable turnaround after having failed to win the first seven games of their campaign without scoring a goal.